CRIME DRAMA HUGH COLLINS No Smoke (Canongate $36.99) .00
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Aspiring writers are always enc0uraged to write about what they know. but Hugh Collins will undoubtedly suffer from the stigma attached to all notori0us criminals who turn to felon fiction (see also Jimmy Boyle. ‘Mad' Frankie Fraser and Jeffrey Archer).
With his first novel No Smoke. it is frequently impossible to separate the fiction from our knowledge of Collins' chequered past. That said. it's a solid enough debut. with Collins capturing Glasgow's underworld in all its pungent flavour. His greatest strengths lie in the creation of Technicolor cartoon characters and convincingly colourful dialogue.
Clearly an aficionado of the genre. Collins has fun building the momentum around particular characters. only to have them violently. unceremoniously dispatched in the next chapter. While the plot (an abortive scam involving a van full of knocked-off jackets) disintegrates early on and feels more like a collection of random incidents. Collins manages to sustain sufficient interest through his characters. (Allan Radcliffe)
PSYCHO-TEEN DRAMA HEATHER
MCGOWAN Schooling (Faber
Before you ask. no it‘s not one to put in the suitcase for some easy poolside reading. Imagine St Trinians
rewritten by James
Joyce and you'll have some idea where School/'ng's stream-of- consciousness narrative is flowing. You have to pay attention at all times or you'll end up as confused as its fourteen-year-old heroine. Catrine.
Dumped in a British boarding school after her mother dies. Catrine has difficulty adjusting. not least because her American accent marks her out as otherly. Despite its avant-hard gloss. the plot is packed with incidents no different from your average teen novel — bullying. having a fly fag. putting on a play — leaving you with the impression that Schooling's tricksy style is merely a substitute for substance.
Even Catrine's Lolita- esque romance with her chemistry teacher can‘t perk up this migraine-inspiring book. If books ever acquire corporate sponsorship, Nurofen should drop Heather McGowan a line. (Colin Waters)
WIM WENDERS On Film: Essays And Conversations (Faber 5320) O...
Wim Wenders may not be in the middle of a streak of great movies at the moment (Million Dollar Hotel anyone?) but while we wait for another Par/s, Texas. this collection of his film writing will do nicely. On Film collects three previously published books of Wenders essays: the excellent ‘Emotion Pictures'. the eclectically intelligent ‘The Logic Of Images' and the stodgier though
“MUSIC His-TORY JOHN ALDERMAN
Sonic Boom (4th Estate £17.99) 000
On a sunny day in May last year. Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich appeared before a crowd in San Mateo. California. Ulrich was in town not to beat his sticks to ‘Enter Sandman'. but to meet
access to his back catalogue. Ulrich left a few minutes later. having dropped off the names of some 300,000 Metallica fans who had copied songs from
with Napster boss Shawn Fanning in an attempt to restrict fans
: other users through Fanning's website. If anyone needed proof of how MP3 technology had set some musicians and executives against their own consumers. this was it.
Meanwhile. many of his industry colleagues have seen such filesharing programmes as an opportunity to be grasped firmly. John Alderman's histOry of young programmers and panicky
major labels casts an admirably objective eye over the whole
NAPSTER, P2P AND THE BATTLE
FOR THE FUTURE OF MUSIC
It's a problematic debate which has exposed the hypocrisy of the majors who claim to be looking after their bands rather than
on a computer icon to do the same thing. Alderman. sadly, doesn't delve too much into these areas.
their bonuses. and of the man on the street who wouldn't steal from a record shop but has no quibbles about double clicking
preferring to list the facts and present the court cases rather
than look for wider implications. His histOry of this invigorating
technological upheaval is knowledgeable and readable. but could
do with a little more rock ‘n' roll. (James Smart)
occasionally compelling ‘The Act Of Seeing'. Wenders is a wonderfully discursive writer unafraid to play with form while displaying his fanaticism. His essays on Godard's One Plus One and Truffaut's L'Enfant Sauvage are
unsurpassable. He has
a rock critic's obsession with quotes and cross- referential embellishment and there is so much to enjoy here. particularly the undoctored English commentary from Notebooks and Cities.
Filmmakers that can write well about the artform they love are very rare: this collection puts Wenders up there with Paul Schrader. (Paul Dale)
RELATIONSHIP COMEDY LUCINDA ROSENFELD
What She Saw In . . . (Picador £10) 00
S“ .5 i.
'Now she understood how love wasn't this absolute thing.‘ Oh.
c'mon! The world needs another Bridget Jones like a fish needs that yellow jersey for the first stage of the Tour de France. But some publishers clearly think otherwise.
Phoebe Fine is a bright young thing who wants to escape her slightly geeky childhood and become a sophisticated girl about town. Which she does. of course. but not before a good few romantic misadventures along the way.
This is not a badly written book. but the plot is the stuff of Helen Fielding/Ally McBea/ and therefore well worn. And Phoebe. sadly not the lovable ditz of Friends. is a superficial and supercilious being, forever preoccupied with what the world thinks and whether she'll ever be as popular as her PLO terrorist-dating elder sister. Enough. already. (Rodger Evans)
COMIC BOOK CHESTER BROWN
Louis Riel No. 6 (Drawn And Quarterly) 0...
Toronto-based writer- artist Chester Brown is about halfway through telling the epic story of his nation's formation. It's the late 19th century and the eponymous folk hero returns from exile as a school teacher in the United
States to the NOrth West Territory to lead the half-bred Metis in a second rebellion against unpopular Scottish prime minister John Macdonald.
But Macdonald is using the rebellion as an excuse to ship his MOunted Police in by railroad to squash the uprising and thus boost SuppOrt for the almost bankrupt Canadian Pacific Railway.
A complex tale — not least because Riel- hero/Macdonald—villain isn't at all clear-cut — both in terms of Brown's sly. wry- humoured storytelling and his delicate line drawing. And each iSSue is lovingly packaged like an old manuscript.
FAMILY DRAMA SUZANNE BERNE
A Perfect Arrangement (Viking £312.99) .00
This second novel by Suzanne Berne introduces the Cook-
Could do with more rock ‘n’ roll
Goldman family who. on the face of things. appear to be living the perfect life. Their individual stories are told in great detail and it becomes apparent that all is not well in
suburbia. The arrival of Randi. the perfect nanny, relieves some of the daily family pressures but it is not long before she is quietly and efficiently taking over their lives. home and children.
This brings a slightly sinister edge to the story as you realise that Randi's control on the family. and particularly the children. is becoming obsessive. It is not until disaster strikes that they have a chance of saving what little they have left.
The story is told slowly and carefully with maybe a bit too much detail at times. but it manages to Create an unsettling edge as you become aware of the Subtle dangers that are about to unfold.
1023 Aug) 3001 THE LIST 4"